Saturday, August 26, 2017

Book Review - A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

When you know war is coming, how do you prepare for it? 

Cover for D. Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes

A Breath of Snow and Ashes
(#6 in series)

In the hills of the Carolinas, on the southeastern coast of the USA, spring was only beginning when a desolate sight met the eyes of Claire and Jamie Fraser. A burning homestead. . .and it wasn't the only one. A friend reports the carnage to Jamie and the Frasers go to investigate. They find half-burned bodies, whole families murdered and hanged, and some poisoned. The settlers are being killed by roving gangs of men who are the forefront of the coming war. Like carrion-eating birds, they judge and execute those who don't agree with them. The marauders blame the Indian camps, some of whom had taken to fighting back as they try to protect their own against these same roving gangs of men.

Tensions are running high when Jamie is offered the position of Indian Agent, a liaison between the British and Native tribes. The British are gathering their supporters about them as they try to determine where and when the trouble will come. Jamie accepts the Indian Agent position with misgivings. One of his first meetings reveals that the Indians want guns, they fear any treaties will be broken if the white man goes to war.  

Both the British and the Regulators (who consider themselves patriots of this new country) are wondering where James Fraser's allegiances lie. Then, an incident at the Fraser mash shed occurs and Claire is snatched as a hostage. She suffers much before Jamie locates the camp. This is a pivotal point in the story.

Incident follows incident, and Claire is regarded with suspicion after she makes a bad medical decision. Some consider her a healer, others thinks she's a witch. Her daughter, who has time-travelled back to find her mother, is kidnapped by a pirate. The Frasers and Roger, Brianna's husband to be, pursue the man responsible in order to find their daughter.

This novel reads at a faster pace, with constant action. The war machine of the British colonial empire is coming. Gabaldon weaves the history details into the narrative, as she shows the anguish and horror which helped birth a nation. The settlers are defending their own land. The British redcoats are defending the Empire. The Indians just want to survive. Recommended for anyone who likes Gabaldon's writing and for fans of the American colonial times. I enjoy Gabaldon's writing style, and the characters that populate her novels. There will be more reviews of her work for this series, once I acquire them. 


Are you a Gabaldon fan? Have you watched the Outlander series on tv? Do you like historical based fiction books? 

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll reply. Thanks for stopping by! Next up will be reviews about a couple of Agatha's mysteries (Poirot) and one review of a book about Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassidy. Hope you'll come back for those.

For my other reviews of Gabaldon's work:

Drums of Autumn (#4)

Voyager (#3)

Dragonfly in Amber (#2)

The Fiery Cross (#5)

Outlander (#1)


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Reunion - The Wanderer - WEP August Challenge

Reunions are celebrated on ReUnion, a colony planet that has been settled for a few hundred years. Here is one of the stories from that planet.

Surface horizon of a planet, similar to ReUnion, free use image

ReUnion - The Wanderer

A Noah Generation II Starship arrived at the landing port with supplies to trade. The sleek stealth black wing design could handle hyperjumps and was equipped with hidden armaments in the exterior shell of the ship. The manifesto included grains, seeds, cloned animal embryos designed to withstand the rigors of space travel, and the latest inventions.

Captain's Log:

We planned to be here for a week, time to unload, reload, make a few deals. With the upcoming ReUnion Festival of Humanity opening in a few days, this place is going to be crawling with potential customers. I smell more profits. 


A red alert flashed indicating an incoming message to the bridge. The captain's raised eyebrows and his switch into action at one of the consoles confirmed this was a real call for help. No one else moved for a few seconds. . .

"Urgent. Mayday. SOS. SOS. Generation I, Colony Starship Wanderer, damaged from attack. Urgent. Come in ReUnion. Our call code is SSJ900. Mayday. Mayday...."

"Call Code SSJ900. This is NOAH , Gen II Trade Starship SST1100, Captain Jona speaking. Do you read me? I'm in contact with the landing agent on ReUnion. An emergency ship will be dispatched. What coordinates?"

"Coordinates sent. Thanks Captain Jona. I'm Pilot Olivar, our power level is depleting. We may need towing unless you have a mechanic who understands the old starship configuration. I can send the schematics."

"Great. I'll forward them to the agent. Your signal wasn't strong enough with all the interference of other ships landing and leaving."

"Can't boost it. Power level too low. I'll look you up later, Captain Jona. I owe you one, sir."

As he signed off, Captain Jona wondered if this man kept his word. Many say of things they will do, but few follow through. This could be an event of historic importance, a wandering explorations colony ship! He wanted to see the other ship and look up Pilot Olivar, once he arrived. 


Captain Jona obtained clearance to visit the ship, on the condition that he would act as liaison for the incoming Terran ship and its captain. 

From the notes of the meeting in the Captain's Log, Starship Noah, quoted verbatim:

"We are a exploration settlement ship which left Terra many centuries ago, an advance ship sent prior to the Great Evacuation. We have been searching for human settlements but only finding other species or humans who look like us. but are NOT like us. Searching so long . .then we were attacked several weeks ago by one of the free-running marauders. They usually travel in pairs but this one was alone. We used a lot of our power supply to escape the attack. We are grateful for your help.

"May we also express our sincere thanks to Captain Jona who heard our call for assistance and responded. Our pleas would have gone unheard if not for him."

Captain Jona winced, but smiled and nodded. No way was he going to stand and acknowledge his part. Nope

Pilot Olivar stood and looked at the few who were able to attend this momentous meeting. Privacy meant it couldn't be a public affair, only an inner circle could be trusted. But Olivar knew, it wouldn't take long for word to get around.

"We, and I speak for my shipmates, will need to assess our damage in human lives as well as our ship functions. I'm not sure how many we may have lost in that last encounter."

Pilot Olivar invited Captain Jona to meet with him privately, so they might talk friend to friend.  As they are dining, Jona tells Olivar about ReUnion and asked him to meet again so they might be able to set up a deal with some of the trade items. Olivar asked him how the name of the planet came to be ReUnion.

Jona replied, "This planet was named ReUnion by the initial settlers with their hope of reuniting some of the far-flung colonies of humankind.  After centuries of no contact, most of the population has forgotten that reason. Reunion has become a focal point at the crossroads of several trade routes. The colony has grown into several large cities on the one large continent. Trade is the lifeblood of this planet. That's why we are here."

WC = 754

To be continued at a later date. . .


Do you like reunions of any kind? Have you attended a reunion for your school or work location, or a large family reunion in the last year?

Please leave a comment to let me know you came by and I'll respond. Thanks for taking time to read my entry, a partial beginning for a short story.


WEP - Write, Edit, Publish - a fiction challenge: REUNIONS

It's August, time for another WEP challenge - with the support team of Nilanjana Bose and Olga Godim adding their imaginings and creativity. Thanks to Denise and Yolanda for being the hosts!

Create an artistic entry: a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 words or less, a non-fiction piece detailing your personal experience or someone else's experience, write a script, draw your dreams, or post a photograph or a photo essay. The genre and the artistic choice are yours!